Much like exercising can become a habit, writing can become one, too. You just have to show up. Every. Single. Day. Even when you really would rather hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off first thing in the morning or head straight home from work and lay in bed. When something’s a habit, you know the benefits of showing up even when you don’t really want to.
When you decide that you’re too busy or too tired to work on your novel, what you’re actually doing is avoiding discomfort. Before you even begin writing, you need to know what it is that’s keeping you from doing it now to prevent that particular fear from sneaking back into your mind.
If your goal is to write a book and you keep putting it off, you need to figure out why you think sitting down to write a novel is uncomfortable. Aside from the obvious answers like it’s too much work and that you don’t have enough time. Otherwise, that first morning you would rather hit the snooze button, you’re brain is going to have a really good story to tell itself to keep you from getting out of bed.
People never start things for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re scared that if you write a novel, it will make you look smarter than your little brother. Or you’re afraid of that people will think your book is garbage. What you’re really fearing is your sibling being mad at you and your loved ones (or strangers!) judging you, which is normal.
To reframe those negative thoughts into positive ones in order to get you excited to write your novel, try this little activity I use in my online coaching program The 90 Day Novel: A Guide to Writing Your First Draft In 90 Days Or Less:
- Write down all the reasons why you suspect you’re afraid to get started.
- Once you have your reasons, write down why you might be feeling that way. Be honest. You need to dig deep here and call out your insecurities.
- Once you have your why, reframe your belief so that writing your novel will be awesome.
Here are some examples:
Bad thought: If I write a novel, my brother will think I’m trying to make him look stupid.
Why: I think my brother will accuse me of making him look stupid because he dropped out of college and is having trouble finding a job. My parents are always getting on him for never trying his hardest.
Better Thought: If I write a novel, my brother will be proud of me. Pursuing my dreams could even inspire him to pursue his. If not, I am not responsible for the way he reacts to my accomplishments.
Bad Thought: If I write a novel, Sheila will want to read it because she’s my best friend. Sheila is a journalist. If my book sucks, she’s going to think less of me.
Why: Sheila writes for a living, which is what I want to do. If a writer thinks I’m bad, then I don’t deserve to call myself a writer.
Better Thought: Sheila loves young adult fantasy novels, which is exactly what I’m writing. She will probably love the story because it will be written in my own unique voice and it’s such a great story. What my loved ones think of my novel matters a lot, but I have no control over how Sheila (or anyone else) feels. Not everyone is going to love what I write, but I love what I write, and I’m proud of the hard work I put into my novel.
Do you see a trend here? Both positive beliefs emphasis how we have NO control over how other people are going to react to our writing. This is something that we must accept and get over from the start. The great thing is, while you’re writing your first draft, nobody in the world is anxiously waiting for you to publish it yet. Even the people who tell you they can’t wait to read your book? They’re likely not pressuring you to freaking finish it already, are they?
Once you have all of your uncomfortable beliefs listed and reframed as positive ones, take the positive beliefs and put them somewhere where you can see them everyday. Each time a negative thought comes to mind, immediately kick it in the rear and replace it with your positive belief.
If these positive beliefs sound too silly to find believable, look at things from this perspective: You have spent so much time (maybe even decades) telling yourself that you aren’t good enough to do this or that. What if all of that negative self-talk is a lie, and the truth is that you really, truly are good enough for what you want? You’ve just been spending all your time living a lie to truly believe in yourself.
Showing the world who you truly are is scary. There’s always going to be someone who isn’t on board with the true you, and sometimes it’s the people we love the most. But withholding yourself of your passions is a serious shame. This is why I created The 90 Day Novel course: to encourage people to tackle their inner-BS and the lies that they’ve been telling themselves in order to sit down and write the novel they’ve always dreamed of writing. We are only guaranteed one short, beautiful life. Make it count and be your best damn self.